This Time Last Year

2015 New Year celebration

It’s possible that I’ve written a post in the past that began with similar words, or at the least shared this thought, but I think once again it might be worth exploring.  There are certain days each year – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays (specifically New Years Eve) – when it seems natural to think of how you spent that day the year before. 

So, here I am, at the beginning of a long Holiday weekend approaching New Years Eve and I can’t remember where I was this time last year.  So, I guess I’ll opt for the second best – reflecting on the past year of my life. Oh boy. 

It has been nearly two months since I moved from New York to Los Angeles. The fact that, that phrase is even part of my vocabulary, seems unreal.  I wonder if and when it will sink in that this truly is a real-life event.  Just today I put on my license plates so maybe that’s a step in the right direction.  Over the past eight weeks, I have moved into a new apartment, leased my first car, began a new job, met a crazy collection of people, experienced more sunshine than I knew was possible in the month of December and discovered things about myself I may never have if not for this move.  And, it’s only been two months.   

When people ask how the move has been, I respond “so far so good and let’s hope it continues this way.”  Therein lies my new years resolution.  I hope that in the year to come I will master, or at least improve slightly, on my ability to live in this moment.  After all, as someone very wise once said, this is the best moment ever because it’s the only one we have right now.  I hope that this California lifestyle and attitude that I’ve been opened up to, rubs off on me.  I hope to slow down, breathe deeper and appreciate more. (Although – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to incorporate certain phrases into my vocabulary – “hella tight” or “hit you up”, without sounding like a total imposter).  

Like anyone else, there are few things I can guarantee but I have this really great feeling that 2015 just sounds like a year that is about to be amazing, bringing us all only wonderful things. Cheers, a few days in advance, to 2015. 

For Someone About to Lose Their Car and Who’s Homeless, You Look Pretty Calm

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I think that is a quote I’ll remember for a lifetime. Over the past three weeks, I have driven over 700 miles, stayed in 9 hotels, 2 different air b n b’s (it would have been 3 if the third hadn’t cancelled on me an hour before I was scheduled to check in) and 5 nights on friend’s couches. Needless to say, if I had to describe my move to Los Angeles in one word, it probably wouldn’t be “seamless”. It would more likely be unsettling, inconvenient, draining (physically, emotionally, financially, you name it), and/or
exhausting.

Spending a week in California with my Dad could not have been better. We spent the first few days driving in a ridiculous number of circles running back and forth between neighborhoods looking at apartments. Of the research I had conducted before we arrived, most of what we saw were apartments in buildings that were probably built close to 100 years ago and appeared not to have been touched since. And for a mere $1700 per month, it could be yours.

After three days and two visits, I decided on a newly renovated one-bedroom apartment. I knew the location wasn’t ideal in that it would require me to drive a solid 15 minutes to get anywhere at all (which in LA time, is horrific) but thought the location was worth sacrificing for a beautiful well-kept new apartment. So, I swallowed the rent that was significantly over the budget I had planned for, signed a 12-month lease and handed over the required check. My dad, the property manager and I headed over to the unit, which had only been vacated 1 day earlier, to gather measurements in order to plan and purchase furniture. And it’s during that walk across the complex that three of the most challenging weeks I have encountered began.

At the same moment, my Dad and I looked at each other and gulped when we heard airplanes swooping what felt like right over our heads. Knowing I had just signed a lease, legally binding me to this place for the next year, I tried to pretend it wasn’t as bad as it actually was. When I asked the property manager about the noise, she told me that “you get used to it”. Correction – I would definitely not be getting used to that. And so, naturally, I started to cry. Someone somewhere must have been watching out for me because this woman, who had previously been anything but kind, offered me my check back and the opportunity to get out of the lease.

My dad and I took 30 seconds to discuss the situation , after which I asked him go to the office to get my check back. The only thing that made the situation worse than it already was, was that my dad was leaving to return to New York in three short hours.

Fast forward three weeks, lots of tears, tons of apartment viewings, day-of planning for where to stay that night too many times to count and a threat of having to return the car I leased to the dealership if I couldn’t prove residency in California within 72 hours, I’ve found a space

Now, if only the movers could have found a way to fit the couch in through my front door….

We Be Brunching, Man

During my last weekend in LA, in an effort to accomplish all of the things that had come to compose my to do list, (actually, more like my “to experience list”) I learned that there are few places better to have breakfast on a Sunday morning in Venice than at Flake.

The acaii bowl does the trick and the latte is among the best I discovered in the area but, for me, what makes it something special, is the company. Surrounded by 20-something guys from the Venice area trying to piece together the previous night is a scene unlike any other.

“She’s not from America and doesn’t really know how to use a phone. That’s why she didn’t text me back.” (Interesting that guys also tell themselves those stories.)

“Did you guys get your tickets to Jay-Z and Beyoncé?”

“Should we just go to the beach now?”

“Dude, did you just get a splinter in your butt?”
“Yes.”

Californians are unique in many ways and this breakfast proved that yet again. I successfully kept my eavesdropping to myself until that splinter comment when I couldn’t help but laugh. Instead of getting angry at this, the guys welcomed me into their conversation. As I scooted down the bench to join them, I couldn’t help but wonder how this situation would have played out in NY.

I declined their offer to join them in watching the World Cup game at “their buddies frat house by UCLA” but am pretty sure that they were right and had I accepted, it would have been a “solidly chill afternoon”.

Watch Out for that Sh*t

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When on my way to work this morning, a stranger looked at me and yelled “watch out for that sh*t.”  I assumed he was another one of New York’s finest until I looked in front of me and saw the huge pile of dog sh*t (excuse my French). I was grateful that this man had just saved my new boots from irreversible damage and my spirits which were pretty high for a Monday morning.  Tomorrow I’m leaving for a wonderful opportunity that is taking me to Los Angeles for work combined with my newfound love for ZenHabits has had me waking up in pretty great moods these past few days. 

Contrary to my other blog posts, this incident got me thinking…

I’m wondering if someone were to offer me the opportunity to be warned every time I was about to step in something unpleasant, if I would take that offer? I’m thinking I would.  While it’s true that it might take some of the mystery away, it would also prevent us from encountering undesirable situations and save us a whole lot of time. Since there are no genies available to steer us clear of these happenings, I guess the best we can do is hope for family and friends (or two wonderful roommates) who can help us do our best to bypass and overcome them.  

There are definitely unpleasant situations that are best left untouched that need to be worked through, but I could do without those that risk ruining shoes or high spirits. 

“What Happy People Do Differently: #1 They Seek Risk, Not Reward”

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A number of my recent posts have explored the idea of taking risks and how doing so relates to happiness.  So you can imagine my excitement when someone sent me an article about “What Happy People Do Differently.”  The article opens with an explanation of happiness as partly emotional and, therefore, highly controllable.  The article continues by explaining that “happy people, it seems, engage in a wide variety of counterintuitive habits that seem, well, downright unhappy.”  

These two ideas made me think of past vacations in foreign places where I did not speak language, was  unfamiliar with the cuisine and felt incredibly confused by the transportation system all of which led me to feel uncomfortable.  With that said, these experiences also made for some of my most wonderful memories and typically ended with my feeling accomplished, proud and happy.  

“Truly happy people seem to have an intuitive grasp of the fact that…it requires growth and adventuring beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone.  Happy people, are, simply put, curious.”  Couldn’t have said it better myself.

So, how do we implement this into our everyday lives? We need to take more risks.  We need to seek out experiences that are novel, complicated and uncertain.  I have my list that I am slowly but surely accomplishing and hope this post helps you to develop and conquer your own.

Common Denominators

ImageThe books lying around, music being played and array of food in the fridge this weekend serve as a perfect representation of the differences between each of the unique people here. Joining a group of people where everyone is meeting and learning about the others has been eye opening in many ways.

Living on the Upper West Side of NYC as a 20-something Jewish female, Shabbat meals are a big part of every weekend. For the past year, I have joined countless Shabbat meals where everyone in attendance is good friends. Being the “newcomer” at one of these meals can be challenging because be it childhood, a summer program or college, I don’t always share the common denominator that everyone else there does. I myself am guilty of trying to follow this pattern when planning a meal. I consciously try to assemble a group where everyone knows each other well.

I wonder what a meal would be like where everyone knew only one other person. After this weekend, I imagine it would be a much more interesting experience than one where everyone knows each other.

I’m looking forward to bringing the concept of this weekend back with me and hopefully hosting many meals that allow others to experience what I am.

Happily Ever After

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Thanks to a wonderful friend, last week I had the pleasant surprise of seeing Cinderella on Broadway.  The play depicted the classic fairy tale with a sassy twist and modern-day flare.  If you need a good laugh or to be temporarily transported back to a time when imagination ruled, I highly recommend it.

My favorite part of the show came when the audience was thrown for a loop.  Of course, we all remember that the prince is only able to track Cinderella down by matching her foot to the glass slipper she leaves behind.  In the play, Cinderella runs off from the ball with both shoes on her feet.  You could hear the audience gasp and whisper about how the prince would ever be able to find her if she “forgot” to leave her shoe!   In the end, the prince held a second party in hopes of finding his mystery princess, at which she conveniently remembered to forget her shoe.

This simple but significant twist got me thinking that maybe stories that don’t follow the exact recipe can still make for a perfect fairy tale.  I think all too often we worry that a certain birthday or streak of bad dates (stay tuned, some incredible stories to come) means we’re not cut out to be a princess.  I’m realizing this isn’t the case.  We must always remember that whether we forget or remember to leave our shoe at the ball, is not necessarily an indication of where we will wind up.